“Deep breaths,” Brianna flicked a lock of pastel pink hair behind her head, “It will be over before we know it...”
I burst through the doors of the classroom, clinging onto my rucksack and trying to ignore the feeling of dread that was making its way across my chest. The jewel of the choker that hung loosely around my neck felt cold against my skin, and my black hair fell in tumbling waves down my back.
Beside me - stood Jett, flashing a smile at a pretty girl who was staring at him. Textbook in hand and eyes wide, she wasn’t an exception from all of the other girls who were in awe of Jett Howard like I had once been, and sometimes still am. Behind Jett; Lorenzo let out a deep chuckle, brown hair ruffled and ashy grey eyes scanning the room and everyone sat in it. His hand tightened around Brianna’s, her fake nails digging into his skin, but he didn’t seem to mind. Her blue eyes gleamed in the dim light, shooting death glares at whoever even took a second glance at Lorenzo. “He’s mine” I could practically hear her growl.
All eyes were on us.
My three best friends— who to me— were nothing but ordinary, but to everyone else were beyond extraordinary. And me, standing in the middle of them, fierce gaze beyond determined to get this horrifying class over and done with.
Usually, the staring lasted only for a couple of minutes, but today it seemed to last for an Eternity.
“Why’s everyone looking at us like we’ve grown an extra head?” I hissed through my teeth at Jett, goosebumps pricking my skin.
“Probably because of the fact that you’re one of them now.” Jett hissed back, smile faltering as he absorbed all of the eager eyes that were pointing in our direction, unwavering.
“Look’s like your famous now A.” Brianna winked in my direction, pearly white teeth showing themselves as her mouth tilted up into a teasing smile.
“Yeah, looks like it” a shudder rolled through me.
A booming voice awakened at the front of the classroom, causing everyone’s eyes to jump from us to Mr. Taylor in less than a second. This was where it began.
“Would our classmates care to take their seats,” Mr. Taylor shot his arm forwards and directed us to our desks, “We have so much to discuss!”
Brianna strutted forwards pulling Lorenzo by the hand, and the pair sat down and pulled out their textbooks obediently. As I began to make my way across the classroom; Lorenzo gave me a soft smile and I felt Jett’s hand at the base of my back, guiding me towards my seat.
I had my eyes locked on the ground as I walked, but could feel a thousand eyes on me, burning into my skin. They were looking at me as if I was an animal in a cage, some of them wearing a hateful expression and others with looks of admiration. It was obvious why, and most of it had to do with the lesson itself.
The weekly class where we learned everything we needed to know — mostly, everything we already knew — about the Eternals and the EDO. It was the lesson both me and my friends despised, and even the thought of Eternal Education was enough to make me feel physically sick.
Today was one hundred times worse than usual, because everyone knew. I was a different person now, and I would be labelled because of the fact that I was one of them. I’ve always liked being the centre of attention, but only for the right reasons, and today was most definitely not one of those reasons.
“I would like to begin with a congratulation,” Mr Taylor’s eyes shone like neon lights of pride, and he clapped his hands together excitedly, “on an admirable achievement that is the sole reason as to why we are all sat here today, learning about the beings who poison our blood. A person who is contributing to the very reason we are alive at the second, breathing and talking and creating awareness for ourselves and our safety.”
The hairs on the back of my neck rose, and my eyes stung with regretful tears. Sweat coated my forehead as I closed my clammy hands together in my lap, trying to calm myself down. Jett squeezed my leg and whispered something to me, but I couldn’t hear anything over the roaring in my ears.
“Astrid Lockwood would you please come to the front and take each step in honour of your family name and pride in making not only yourself but your country proud.”
The lies escaped his mouth one by one; and with each word I bit down harder on my lip, the metallic taste of blood filling my mouth. The room span and my body shook under Jett’s hand that still caressed my knee. I couldn’t feel his touch for any longer though, as I began to feel more and more distant and detached from the situation.
“Astrid?” I wasn’t quite sure who had spoken my name.
Was it Mr Taylor, still urging me to make my way to the front of the room so that I could be applauded for the biggest mistake that I had ever made in my seventeen years of living? Was it Jett, who was trying anything and everything to calm me down?
It could have been Brianna and her blue eyes, that were cutting into me like a knife, worry seeming to scream from her. Maybe it was Lorenzo, shaking his hand in front of my face to try and get me to concentrate back in the room where I was sat.
Was it the agent who paced my room at night, whispering foreign words and watching my every move? Or was it this unnerving sense I had that told me it wasn’t an agent who roamed my room in the dark, but something else? Something unimaginable.
“Astrid” my name was spoken aloud again, but this time it was accompanied with white and the hard impact that shook my body as it hit the stone cold ground.